General Manager John Mozeliak announced Friday that the Cardinals have reassigned third base coach Chris Maloney and released infielder Jhonny Peralta. (File)  

By Rob Rains

Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak sent a couple of significant messages on Friday with a series of staff changes, most notably the reassignment of third base coach Chris Maloney to another role in the organization.

“What today represents is that people are being held accountable,” Mozeliak said.

If the frustrating and disappointing performance by the Cardinals doesn’t improve in the next month to six weeks, Mozeliak basically said, more moves could follow.

“Everybody, including myself, is not in the most secure situation right now,” Mozeliak said, citing the pre-season expectations of the team’s ownership. “When you are under-performing, people have to make changes.

“This is a breakdown on many levels. The hope today is that there is a change and that there is some positive response.”

In addition to the staff changes, which will see Mike Shildt take over as the third base coach, Mozeliak said Jhonny Peralta was designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Kolten Wong as he returns from the disabled list.

“This season has not gone as we had hoped,” Mozeliak said at Friday’s press conference. “I feel like standing up here and doing nothing and hoping for a different outcome is not the right strategy.”

Mozeliak said it was the first time in his tenure as the Cardinals’ GM he has had to make an in-season staff personnel change.

“I felt like something had to be done,” Mozeliak said. “The tough part is it feels like you are sort of pointing at one person for the mistakes and everybody recognizes all of us feel responsible for where we are. However, you can’t just blow the whole thing up. You have to start somewhere.”

That somewhere was with Maloney, who was a minor-league manager in the organization for 17 years before becoming the first-base coach in 2012 when Mike Matheny became the manager. Maloney replaced Jose Oquendo as the third base coach last season when Oquendo took a leave of absence to have knee replacement surgery. Mozeliak said he will talk to Maloney next week about his new assignment.

Mozeliak said he did give some thought to seeing if Oquendo was interested in returning to the major-league staff but ultimately decided to keep him working as a special instructor, based in Jupiter, Fla.

Shildt coached third for several years as a minor-league manager. He was promoted to the major-league staff last winter to serve in a new position as a quality-control coach.

Maloney had a tough time as the third-base coach, sending numerous runners into almost certain outs at the plate. Those mistakes came at the same time the offense was struggling to score runs.

The moves came after an 0-7 road trip against division rivals Chicgo and Cincinnati, which left the Cardinals six games under .500 going into Friday night’s game against the Phillies at Busch Stadium.

“The bottom line is wins and losses,” Matheny said. “We all have to figure out how to do our part to get us where we need to be.

“Chris Maloney is a good person and a friend. Those are tough conversations. He’s helped me from day one and helped everybody here. It’s a tough business.”

Other moves announced by Mozeliak were that assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller had been granted a leave of absence to deal with a personal family matter. Mark Budaska, the hitting coach at Triple A Memphis, will move into that role. Ron “Pop” Warner, a roving instructor in the minor leagues, also will join the major-league staff.

Shildt will also be in charge of the team’s outfield defense, another area of concern for Mozeliak so far this season.

“As we sit there today, we’ve had more struggles in our outfield defense than we’ve had in the infield,” he said. “That’s frustrating. That’s something that has to change.”

Peralta, who turned 35 two weeks ago, was in the final year of a four-year contract signed as a free agent before the 2014 season. He missed much of last season because of a torn ligament in his thumb, and spent the early part of this year on the DL with an illness.

He lost his job as the starting third baseman to Jedd Gyorko, and was hitting just .204 in 21 games. He did not have an extra-base hit or an RBI in 54 at-bats.

“He understood where we are as a club,” Matheny said. “Never a fun conversation. Just a pro, a guy that goes about his business the right way and appreciates the game. Top-shelf player. His quiet way was impactful on everybody on the club.

“These are friends as well as co-workers.”

There likely will be more roster moves coming before Tuesday’s double-header against the Brewers, Mozeliak said.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains